Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ulisti

iOS

Ulisti is a new app, available free on the App Store, created by yours truly.

For the past few months I’ve been working on it in my spare time, and I would really appreciate if you gave it a try. As this is version 1.0 there are still some bugs that I need your help in identifying and squashing, but more importantly I’d love to hear what you think works well, what needs improvement, and what features you’d like to see added next. I have a lot of ideas of my own for future enhancements, but I think version 1.0 is a decent starting point.

Here’s a brief overview of the app:

Ulisti is a simple and powerful way to make lists and keep them organized.

With Ulisti you can:
• Make rankings and countdowns of your top 10 favorite movies or the best restaurants in town
• Make checklists for your weekly groceries or important reminders
• Make alphabetically sorted lists for your recipe catalogue
• Make lists with custom ordering so you can control exactly what goes where
• Store photos, descriptions, notes, tags, and links along with your list items
• Sync everything to the cloud

With support for multiple list types, Ulisti replaces the need for several other apps. With useful features like clipboard awareness, you can quickly add photos or links to your list items. And with an ambitious feature roadmap, this is just the beginning!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Matrix in 4K HDR

Movies

I originally watched The Matrix in a friend’s basement when I was 16 or 17. It was a poor quality copy playing on his rather small TV connected to his rather slow computer. But that didn’t stop me from being completely blown away by the story and special effects. Fast forward 19 years and we now have Warner Brothers re-releasing the iconic film in 4K and high dynamic range. I watched it last night and was thoroughly impressed. The film’s special effects hold up incredibly well (not perfect in the CGI-heavy sentinel scenes, but pretty damn impressive for something almost 20 years old) and I would argue the story is even more relevant today than in 1999.

Definitely worth a watch.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Reading Backlog

OpinionPoliticsReadingScienceTechnology

Pocket is a great app for keeping track of articles you want to read, but I often collect a lot more in there than I ever get around to posting. Here’s a small collection of articles that should have been posted over the past few years:

  • The man who brought us the lithium-ion battery at the age of 57 has an idea for a new one at 92 (Quartz, February 2015):

    Unlike the transistor, the lithium-ion battery has not won a Nobel Prize. But many people think it should. The lithium-ion battery gave the transistor reach. Without it, we would not have smartphones, tablets or laptops, including the device you are reading at this very moment. There would be no Apple. No Samsung. No Tesla.

  • How 5G will push a supercharged network to your phone, home, car (CNET, March 2015):

    5G networks will be about 66 times faster than 4G. That speed opens up intriguing new capabilities. Self-driving cars can make time-critical decisions. Video chats will make us feel like we’re all in the same room. And cities can monitor traffic congestion, pollution levels and parking demand — and then feed that information to your smart car in real time.

  • The Credit Card Obsessives Who Game the System—and Share Their Secrets Online (Racked, April 2015):

    Last year, Angelina Aucello took 90 flights across the globe. The 28-year-old stay-at-home mom spent close to nothing on trips to the Middle East, Australia, South America, and Asia.

    Her secret? Credit cards—and not just three or four. Aucello currently has 24 cards; she’s been avidly collecting points and miles on them for a decade.

  • John Oliver Shows How Dumb It Is For Cities To Finance Sports Stadiums (The Huffington Post, July 2015):

    American cities are shelling out big money for new sports stadiums — and John Oliver has one question: Why?

  • The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy (The Atlantic, October 2015):

    In 2011, several citizen scientists flagged one particular star as “interesting” and “bizarre.” The star was emitting a light pattern that looked stranger than any of the others Kepler was watching.

  • Jimmy Wales: I don’t regret not monetising Wikipedia (The Telegraph, January 2016):

    Fast-forward 37 years, and the now 49-year-old Wales is at the helm of a website so vast, it would take more than 21 years for a normal person to read the English-language pages alone.

    But, perhaps unexpectedly, he is also – as his wife’s maid of honour described him in a toast at their wedding – the one world-famous internet entrepreneur who didn’t become a billionaire.

  • America’s democracy has become illiberal (The Washington Post, December 2016):

    Two decades ago, I wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs that described an unusual and worrying trend: the rise of illiberal democracy. Around the world, dictators were being deposed and elections were proliferating. But in many of the places where ballots were being counted, the rule of law, respect for minorities, freedom of the press and other such traditions were being ignored or abused. Today, I worry that we might be watching the rise of illiberal democracy in the United States — something that should concern anyone, Republican or Democrat, Donald Trump supporter or critic.

  • Canadians Adopted Refugee Families for a Year. Then Came ‘Month 13.’ (The New York Times, March 2017):

    Ordinary Canadians had essentially adopted thousands of Syrian families, donating a year of their time and money to guide them into new lives just as many other countries shunned them. Some citizens already considered the project a humanitarian triumph; others believed the Syrians would end up isolated and adrift, stuck on welfare or worse. As 2016 turned to 2017 and the yearlong commitments began to expire, the question of how the newcomers would fare acquired a national nickname: Month 13, when the Syrians would try to stand on their own.

  • History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit And Trump (The Huffington Post, July 2017):

    My point is that this is a cycle. It happens again and again, but as most people only have a 50-100 year historical perspective they don’t see that it’s happening again. As the events that led to the First World War unfolded, there were a few brilliant minds who started to warn that something big was wrong, that the web of treaties across Europe could lead to a war, but they were dismissed as hysterical, mad, or fools, as is always the way, and as people who worry about Putin, Brexit and Trump are dismissed now.

    Then after the War to end all Wars, we went and had another one. Again, for a historian it was quite predictable. Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Inside the Amish town that builds U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift’s live shows   

DesignMusicTechnology

Stephen Armstrong, writing for WIRED, gives an intriguing glimpse into the company at the forefront of live show set design:

It’s always a difficult moment for designers such as Lipson and Williams when rock stars doodle their concepts for stage shows. To get a stadium tour from notion to opening night costs tens of millions. Thousands of people are needed to design, build, assemble, market and sell the show. The technology involved often doesn’t exist yet.

In this case, at first, the set design looked simple – a 61-metre-wide, 14-metre-high 8K LED video screen painted gold with a silhouette of a Joshua tree picked out in silver. During the second half of the show, the screen would show epic high-definition American landscapes shot by photographer and director Anton Corbijn. There would also be a tree-shaped catwalk and satellite stage extending into the audience, plus steel trusses that dangled lights and speakers high above the stage.

To deliver that concept, however, required at least three world-first equipment prototypes: a video-controlled follow-spotlight that tracked performers using a CCTV system; a state-of-the-art carbon-fibre video screen (the largest and highest resolution ever used for a concert tour, with pixels just 8.5mm apart); and prototype speakers from audio specialists Clair Brothers that are so powerful, only 16 speakers are needed to flood even the largest stadium with sound.

I’m always wowed by the spectacle of the massive sets and stunning tour productions put on by big-name artists, but I had no idea that so many of them come from the same source – Tait Towers. Take a look at the company’s impressive portfolio which includes work for The Academy Awards, AC/DC, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, The London Olympics, The Rolling Stones, and many more.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings?   

Politics

Max Fisher and Josh Keller reporting for the New York Times:

But there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike. Why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?

Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.

The next time you hear someone proclaim, “guns aren’t the problem, ______ are the problem” stop and inform them that in fact guns are LITERALLY the problem.

Ontario minister refuses to release man from solitary who’s spent four years in isolation   

Politics

Adrian Morrow and Patrick White, writing for The Globe and Mail:

The minister in charge of Ontario’s prisons will not release from solitary confinement an inmate who has spent four years in isolation without trial despite a growing chorus of voices demanding action.

Community Safety Minister David Orazietti is under pressure to let Adam Capay, a 23-year-old First Nations man, out of the Plexiglas-lined cell at the Thunder Bay Jail where he is confined alone under 24-hour-a-day artificial light.

Mr. Capay was charged in 2012 with killing another inmate in a fight, and has not yet come to trial.

I read this story a few minutes after watching a Lonely Planet video showcasing Canada as the top pick in their Best in Travel 2017 list. In their description of our country, Lonely Planet highlights Canada’s “reputation for inclusiveness and impeccable politeness.” Perhaps someone should forward that link to the Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

An online petition is collecting signatures and requesting the end to the inhuman treatment of inmate Adam Capay.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Delete2Archive for macOS 10.12 Sierra

Apple

In September, Apple released macOS 10.12 Sierra. Due to some changes to the way Mail.app handled plugins, it unfortunately took me much longer to update Delete2Archive than I would have liked. After a month of searching and testing I was finally able to identify the compatibility issue and now have a version of Delete2Archive that is compatible with macOS Sierra.

However, I would strongly reinforce my prior suggestions that you try to get Mail.app working natively to archive your messages without the need of this plugin as Mail.app has come a long way since macOS 10.9 Mavericks in terms of Gmail support and I have not used Delete2Archive personally since macOS 10.9.2. In macOS 10.12 Sierra, there are now specific settings under Preferences > Accounts > Mailbox Behaviors that allow you to map your Gmail folders to their Mail.app equivalents, including the Archive mailbox. Please give it a try before downloading the latest version of Delete2Archive.

For those that still legitimately need the plugin, follow the installation instructions and download the new version of the plugin from the Delete2Archive page.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

An absurd week in America’s two-tier election   

Politics

Scott Gilmore, writing for Macleans:

Every day, Trump says something or is revealed to have done something that would have disqualified every other candidate for president over the last 40 years. Howard Dean’s political career ended after he yelled too loudly at a campaign rally. All Michael Dukakis had to do was pose for a picture in a tank and his campaign was over.

By contrast, Trump is exposed as a liar, a fraud or a bigot on an hourly basis. He is shown repeatedly to be ignorant of the most basic elements of the U.S. Constitution or international affairs. You could describe his entire campaign as a train wreck, if a train was able to crash day after day non-stop. But still, the pundits roll their eyes—“That’s just Trump being Trump”—and turn to Clinton’s cough.